BELGIUM: Belgian driver Thierry Neuville achieved his 14th WRC career win with victory at the Ypres Rally driving his i20 Coupe WRC. Neuville took his first win of the year on home soil leading by 30.7 seconds from Hyundai team-mate Craig Breen of Ireland. This trophy was Neuville’s first since the Monte Carlo Rally in 2020.
Kalle Rovanpera, who won the rally in Estonia this year, secured the third position after a fierce intra-team battle with fellow Toyota drivers Evans and Ogier. Welshman Evans took the fourth position and the current championship leader Ogier was down in the fifth position.
With this win, Neuville closed the gap further with Sebastien Ogier by securing 124 points in the world championship standings. Frenchman Sebastien Ogier, the seven-time world champion is still leading with 162 pts. Toyota drivers Neuville and Elfyn Evans are now both at second position with 124 points.
Team Toyota now leads the constructors’ championship by 41 points.
Casualties during the Rally
During the third stage, Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta WRC stepped out of line on a fast left-hander and ended up in a ditch dashing all hopes of success in the rally. Soon after Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford met with an accident, his teammate, Gus Greensmith met with a similar fate when his Fiesta ran too wide before landing up inside a ditch just a few hundred meters from the start of stage four.
Surprisingly, Toyota driver, Takamoto Katsuta who was running behind Fourmaux but ahead of Greensmith also faced the same ending. Katsuta driving with a new co-driver Keaton Williams failed to manoeuvre his car into a fast left-hander. As a result, his Toyota Yaris WRC ran wide to the right into a ditch taking out an electricity line and bringing the stage to a long halt. Luckily both of them walked away unharmed.
Loubet also couldn’t complete all of the stages as he too dropped his Hyundai into a ditch like others.
Born in 1988 at St. Vith, Thierry Jean Neuville started rallying in the year 2007. In 2009, he made his World Rally Championship debut at the Rally Catalunya, and in the following year, he competed in the Junior World Rally Championship. Soon, Citroën Junior Team signed him and he debuted at World Rally Car in 2012. His first success came in 2013 when he finished as runners-up in the championship driving for the Qatar World Rally Team.
In 2014, Hyundai Motorsport signed Neuville as their lead driver. In 2014 Rallye Deutschland Neuville won his first World Rally Championship event. This was Hyundai’s first too.
Till date, he has finished as runner-up in the drivers’ championship five times between 2013 and 2019 and won 14 world rallies, all for Hyundai. He also helped Hyundai win its first manufacturers’ title in 2019. Currently, Neuville is competing in the World Rally Championship for Hyundai Motorsport. His current co-driver is compatriot Martijn Wydaeghe.
The Ypres Rally
First held in 1965, the Ypres Rally soon became an important part of the European Rally Championships. Belgian WRC driver Freddy Loix won the rally 11 times between 1996 and 2016. Other prominent winners at the Rally include former world champions Walter Röhrl and Miki Biasion, Henri Toivonen, Kris Meeke, Thierry Neuville, and 2019 winner Craig Breen.
The Ypres Rally stages are known to have narrow and fast lanes lined by drainage ditches and telegraph poles, with many tight junctions. The drivers are often challenged with big cuts in corners that result in mud and debris dragged onto the road, making conditions slippery with the passage of each car. Adding to the challenging road, rain often makes things incredibly slippery that ultimately leads to cars landing up in ditches that happened frequently in this year’s event.
Final Result – Rally of Belgium
- Thierry Neuville & Martijn Wydaeghe of Belgium (Hyundai), Total Time: 2hr 30min 24.2sec
- Craig Breen & Paul Nagle of Ireland (Hyundai), Total Time: +30.7sec
- Kalle Rovanpera & Jonne Halttunen of Finland ( Toyota), Total Time: +43.1sec
- Elfyn Evans & Scott Martin of Great Britain ( Toyota), Total Time: +49.6sec
- Sebastien Ogier & Julien Ingrassia of France (Toyota), Total Time: +55.8sec
- Ott Tänak & Martin Järveoja from Estonia (Hyundai), Total Time: +3:46.5sec
- Yohan Rossel & Alex Coria from France (Citroen C3 – WRC3), Total Time: + 12:14.9sec
The Drivers standings
- Sebastien Ogier, France (Toyota) – 162 points
- Elfyn Evans, GBR (Toyota) – 124 points
- Thierry Neuville, Belgium (Hyundai) – 124 points
- Kalle Rovanpera, Finland (Toyota) – 99 points
- Ott Tanak, Estonia (Hyundai) – 87 points
- Takamoto Katsuta, Japan (Toyota) – 66 points
- Craig Breen, Ireland (Hyundai) – 60 points
- Gus Greensmith, GBR (M-Sport Ford) – 34 points
The Teams standings
- Toyota – 348 points
- Hyundai – 307 points
- M-Sport Ford – 135 points
- Hyundai 2C – 44 points
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